1. Vikings design routes to produce big plays
In new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo's first game, the Vikings found success in their passing game with bunch formations and stack releases, like on Adam Thielen's 34-yard gain in the third quarter. Thielen lined up next to Stacy Coley, whose deep route cleared out cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. "There's so many different route combinations you can run out of that, that they have to worry about," Thielen said. "And then when you bring somebody across the field — I think [Stefon] Diggs did a great job of getting across the field fast, that he occupied another defender [K'Waun Williams]."
2. Patchwork offensive line left no room for Cook to run
As the Vikings faced a stout 49ers front with a patchwork interior line (Tom Compton at left guard, Brett Jones at center and Mike Remmers at right guard), they struggled to open running room for Dalvin Cook, who gained only 40 yards in 14 carries and took numerous hits in the backfield. The Vikings hope Pat Elflein can return in time for Sunday's game against the Packers, whose defensive front has improved with Kenny Clark's development alongside Mike Daniels.
3. Two-minute drill ends without points
When the Vikings got the ball back at their own 2 with 2:18 left in the first half, coach Mike Zimmer said he told DeFilippo he didn't want the 49ers to get the ball back. That, Zimmer said Monday, contributed to a two-minute drill where the Vikings effectively ran out of time just beyond midfield. They let 22 seconds tick off the clock after a screen to Cook that lost 6 yards. Zimmer said he thought about trying to score before the screen, but at that point, "I said, 'The heck with it.' " The Vikings ran two more plays before the end of the half, and ended the drive without points.